Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Avengers Vs. Thanos

Avengers Vs. Thanos. Blank variant commission, full pencils. The Mad Titan versus Earth's Mightiest, the 22-member roster.

John Ford Coley waives talent fee for 'fellow Filipinos' in need

(Published Nov. 25, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

“This is like my second home. Pinoy ako,” American singer-songwriter John Ford Coley declared during his recent show, “Love Overload,” at the Solaire Grand Ballroom.

Courtesy of Steve O'Neal Productions
The Grammy-nominated artist had anecdotes to back up his claim, and repeatedly thanked his Filipino fans, whom he said kept him going. This time around, the so-called “Crown Prince of Love Songs” gave back by auctioning off two signed guitars for the benefit of the Bohol quake and “Yolanda” survivors. Each guitar fetched P100,000. Coley earlier waived his talent fee for the night.
Opening act was local band Hotdog, whose frontman, Rene Garcia, said his group was playing for free, as well. They performed two lively classics, “Annie Batungbakal” and “Manila” (slightly altered to include “Tacloban” in the lyrics).

Abbee M, who sounded like the late Karen Carpenter, impressively did The Carpenters hits “You,” “Yesterday Once More” and “Merry Christmas, Darling.”

The Barry Manilow-esque Kyle Vincent followed with his own three-song set, ending with Jose Mari Chan’s “Beautiful Girl.” While singing this last song, Vincent stepped off the stage and chased a shy, bemused usherette in the aisles.

At 9:40, Coley sat at the keyboard to play “Gone Too Far,” a hit from his days in a pop-rock duo with the late Dan Seals, a.k.a. England Dan.
The 65-year-old Coley said he was “sick all day long,” but was pretty energetic throughout the show. He effortlessly played the beloved “We’ll Never Have to Say Goodbye Again” early into his set.

He strained quite a bit with Dan Fogelberg’s “Longer,” but got his bearings back with the crowd favorite, “It’s Sad to Belong.” He admitted to being reluctant when first asked to play that here years ago, but did so anyway and later included it in the set list.

He took a breather and invited his Filipino backup singers to do “Dust in the Wind” and “Sometimes When We Touch” while he played the guitar. Then he sped things up again with  “Nights are Forever Without You,” and the endearing “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight,” the latter inspiring a sing-along.

Just before “Love is the Answer,” Coley urged audience members to give their donations through his official website (, assuring them that everything would reach the intended recipients. Shortly after, he tugged at heartstrings with the mushy “Just Tell Me You Love Me.”

Vincent joined him for the final song, “Jingle Bell Rock.” They bungled the lyrics—no rehearsal? Overall, though, “Love Overload” mostly did its job, made satisfactory by Coley’s uplifting nostalgic numbers.

Madela@ 10: Music and mimicry by a worthy talent

(Published Nov. 21, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

It’s been a decade since recording artist Jed Madela burst into the music scene, hence “X,” the 10th anniversary concert at the PICC Plenary Hall last Friday.

It was a well-attended event despite problematic traffic around the area. The singer was onstage by 9:10, opening with a sleeker version of Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer,” briefly mashed with MC Hammer’s “Pray.”

This was quickly followed by the dance ditty “Wish,” which segued into David Guetta’s “Without You.”

The perfunctory first spiel acknowledged friends and fans who had braved Friday-payday traffic. Madela slowed things down with “Kiss From a Rose,” then talked about his involvement with teleserye soundtracks. The ballads “Sinasamba Kita” and “Bukas na Lang Kita Mamahalin” more aptly showcased emotional verve and range, for those in the hall who were not exactly floored by the opening songs.

“X” showed Madela’s funny side. Interspersing songs with comedy sketches, he traced his roots, revealing phases depicting his musical growth, accentuated by self-deprecating humor. He and band leader Mel Villena bantered amusingly, the latter even heckling the performer from time to time.

Joined by male and female dancers during a medley of Beatles hits, Madela moved around a bit, but let his more agile companions provide the more kinetic, interpretative motions.

Photo by Mike Sun
Then he talked about loving Motown early on, and proceeded with heartfelt covers of The Jackson  5’s “Got to Be There” and “I’ll Be There.”

Madela recounted joining singing tilts as a kid, borrowing a karaoken machine and minus-one tapes from a friend. Of course he won some, lost some. The friend eventually stopped lending him the equipment and competed against him in the same contests. To this day, he revealed, he continues to ignore that person’s “friend requests” in Facebook.

“X” also highlighted Madela’s talent for musical mimicry. Continuing his absorbing career story, he sang snippets from Taylor Dayne’s “Love Will Lead You Back” and Martin Nievera’s “Be My Lady” eliciting amused cheers.

But more stunning were his impressions of Regine Velasquez, Lea Salonga and Lani Misalucha, from whose famous songs he sang a few stanzas each.

He was quick to joke that Velasquez and Salonga were “invited guests,” but that they were at the concert of Sarah Geronimo, who was likewise celebrating her 10th year in the business via a concert elsewhere, that same evening.

A baffling philosophical musing on the supertyphoon disaster elicited reluctant applause: “The Philippines was made an instrument of God to unite the world.”

Save for that, the show ran smoothly for over two and a half hours—and because it was a famously no-guests event, Madela was onstage practically the whole time. A hodgepodge of covers it was for sure, but a welcome and organized musical melange. He got to throw in a teary number, “Proud of Your Boy,” dedicated to his parents. He did Stevie Wonder and Elvis Presley medleys impressively. There were even show tunes.

“I have learned to enjoy, to have fun,” Madela enthused. Well, it showed. More importantly, it resonated—and reiterated that he is a worthy, worthwhile major talent.

Baylans, 1998

Drawing for Baylans, 1998. My post-"Dhampyr" style.

John Ford Coley: I love Filipinos, they laugh a lot

(Published Nov. 19, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

"I just truly love playing. I enjoy doing what I’m gifted to do,” singer-songwriter John Ford Coley told the Inquirer at the press event in Solaire Resort last Tuesday for his one-night show there, “Love Overload,” the day after.

“I’m not an audiophile,” Coley said, adding that he was never particular with the nuances of recording sessions, or even music formats. “I listen to any format… whatever’s convenient [as long as it’s] a greatly crafted song.”

Photo by Oliver Pulumbarit
Originally part of the Grammy-nominated American duo England Dan and John Ford Coley, the singer, 65, scored hits with  high school buddy Dan Seals in the 1970s—“Simone,” "I’d Really Love to See You Tonight,” and “Sad to Belong,” among others. After eight albums, they disbanded in 1980. Seals passed away in 2009.

A classically trained pianist, Coley continues to tour.

Describe the perfect love song.
Oh, gosh. It should take you to places that you haven’t thought about… it should get you choked up. One is Dan Fogelberg’s “Leader of the Band,” [though] it’s not about a romance, but about love between father and son.

You’ve performed music in various genres. How do you pick them?
I’ve always been eclectic and have pretty much done what I enjoyed doing. Whatever happens to come out, it’s what God lets me do.

How is that spirituality informing your lyrics?
I don’t write spiritual music, per se; When people come to my concert, they don’t want to hear spiritual things or politics, although I’m very political. If you want to talk to me about those things, I’d be more than happy to, but not from the stage.

What have you observed about American music now?
The recording industry has changed dramatically. We have a new generation of artists with their own styles. I recognize that music changes and progresses. I enjoy Josh Groban and Little Big Town. I love Joni Mitchell, Shawn Colvin… Melody is a key ingredient.

How differently did artists behave all those years ago?
The older artists realize it’s not 1976 anymore and we can’t behave the way we used to. We’ve grown up a bit! Artists now have a lot more opportunities… but many don’t appreciate where they come from, and that’s sad. I grew up on the road, traveling with Bread, Three Dog Night, Elton John. Those who trashed hotel rooms, that wasn’t us. There were certain standards that we held for ourselves.

You recorded a live album here in 2009. What makes your bond with Filipinos different?
This might be my 20th visit since 2000. I love my relationship with the Filipino people for one major reason: they laugh and are appreciative. They have respect. They like love songs, things that speak to them. They’re very friendly and kind—I’ve experienced that on many different levels. The food ain’t bad either, I’ll tell you that!

Giving Thanks or Eff Yous, Depending

Status updates, now with Tweets!

Nov. 17. Everyday is like cheat day.
Nov. 18. Korra!!!
Nov. 18. Sometimes at the office, a thought just makes me smile: "Wow, I work here."
Nov. 18. And it's cool that after writing for the paper for 11 years, I finally get to see people I only "met" at networking sites.
Nov. 18. Funny and interesting water cooler/comic book chat with Ramon R. :D
Nov. 19. Cloud 9 Salted Caramel. Agh. Crave-a-licious.
Nov. 21. Trying to remember if Veronica Mars had a "bad girl" phase. Buffy Summers did, and Jenna Hamilton is undergoing one. Hmm. #feetofclay
Nov. 21. Latest Awkward. "Thank you for being my hero." Onions. F*ck.
Nov. 22. Ignoring the bottle of vodka. Can't have a headache at work.
Nov. 22. Aaaaand I failed. lol
Nov. 24. Malamig na ulam ng Bodhi. I missed you.
Nov. 24. Kape, soft drinks, vodka. Halos walang tulog. Haha.
Nov. 25. No Xmas party number. Whew. I dreaded dancing to a OneD song.
Nov. 25. Feels like a long year, in a good way. #wheredidthetimego
Nov.26. One last call for alcohol so finish your whiskey or... tequila.
Nov. 27. Thumb cut by disposable razor in bag. Thought it was secure. Happens at least once a year. Klutz.
Nov. 27. Annoying last-minute cancellation of interview. Poorly coordinated event.
Nov.27. Coffee. We meet again. I need you.
Nov. 27. I will not fall asleeeeeeep................
Nov. 27. So close, yet so far away. #yeahvaguebooking
Nov 28. "Gentle" reminder. Right.

Saturday, November 16, 2013


WIP, Avengers cover commission. Enjoying the huge roster, which reminds me of Morrison's expanded JLA lineup after the Rock of Ages arc.

Sketchy Thoughts

Sketched on scratch while waiting for a show at Solaire earlier. It was only the Psychic Love boys, initially, but a few minutes into sketching, I included things that are on their minds.

'Iron Man' voice actor appreciates his 'fun job'

(Published Nov. 11, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

Prominently featured as super-powered politician Nathan Petrelli in the 2006-2010 sci-fi show “Heroes,” US actor Adrian Pasdar first got noticed in 1986 when he appeared in films such as “Top Gun,” “Streets of Gold” and “Solarbabies.”

He began acting in TV shows and TV-movies, getting roles in “Profit,” “Mysterious Ways” and, yes, “Heroes.” He regularly appears as district attorney Alec Rybak in the teen drama series, “The Lying Game.”
Pasdar, 48, gets to fight power-mad villains once again as the voice actor of iconic comic book hero Iron Man in the animated series, “Marvel’s Avengers Assemble.”

This is not the first time he’s playing the armored Avenger; he first voice-acted Tony Stark two years ago in “Marvel Anime: Iron Man.” He also provided voices for Marvel characters Hawkeye (in “Super Hero Squad,” 2009) and Captain America (in “Black Panther,” 2010).

Excerpts from our recent interview:

Describe a regular recording session for the show.
We have a chance to read the script usually a night or two before we’ve gotten there, so everybody’s read the script, we’re up-to-date on what we need to do, and we have a run at it. There are eight of us usually in the room…in sort of a semicircle standing behind microphones, and the director’s on the other side of the big glass, and we read through the script.

The director [tells] us how he wants us to proceed. It takes four or five hours. And then there’s a follow-up session, usually a few days later. Nine months after that, we come back and do fixes. It’s a long process, but it’s fun. You have to like the people that you’re working with; you spend a lot of time with them.

How was the experience of voicing other cartoon characters helpful to you for this project? 
It’s about having a real love for what you’re doing. A lot of people are involved. Just because I’m doing the voice, you refer to me as Iron Man, but there really are so many people responsible for bringing him to life. I’m just the last element. It’s good to have an appreciation and an understanding of how much work goes into it. There’s also the recording at the end. It’s a lot of fun, getting to the end. It’s a lot of work, but it’s also very, very rewarding.

In your observation, how has the American TV industry changed in the last few years?
I think a paradigm that is shifting is [how people watch] their programs—and the way those programs are being made. Television has had to adapt [but] there’s one good thing that always stays the same—good shows make it. This is always true. It’s just a lot of effort. It takes just as much energy to make a bad show as it does to make a good one, I’ll tell you that.

What’s the secret to consistently playing a character for several episodes?
It’s a long process and it all starts with the writing. If the writing is good, then the actor’s job is much easier. If the writing is bad, then your job’s a lot harder. Being consistent really just means paying attention to the overall theme, the idea of what the writer is trying to get across. It’s a matter of staying in focus and staying on point.

Disney Channel airs “Marvel’s Avengers Assemble” Dec. 23, 24, 26 and 27, 2 to 4 p.m.

Me Time

With Rob Schneider after the press con at Solaire, weeks ago. Watched his show that night, too. So damn funny!

Sitting at the Dragon Bar after. Transcribed and ate cake.

Gym shirt pasalubong from Ma'am Emmie. :D

Sunrise for the country's animators

(Published Nov. 17, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

“The festival never had a theme, there’s no focus, as long as it’s Filipino,” said Michael Kho Lim, executive director of Animation Council of the Philippines Inc. (ACPI), which is organizing the 7th Animahenasyon festival.

“It’s very free, so we get really diverse competition entries,” Lim told the Inquirer. “But there was a time when ‘heroes’ coincidentally became a theme because several entries featured superheroes [or fantasy heroes]. Normally, we get themes like family, education, or Christmas.”

The annual Animahenasyon— the name merges “animation” and “imagination”—features industry luminaries, contests, and exhibitions. Animahenasyon 2013 will be held from Nov. 19 to 22 at the West Visayas State University in Iloilo City.

“The first time we held it outside Manila was in 2010, in Naga. The objective is to tap regional animators. Iloilo is part of the next wave … emerging cities that have a large pool of animators,” Lim said.

The competition is open only to Filipinos. The categories are student and professional, and each entry will be “time-based,” or limited to a fixed number of minutes.

“We hope to generate original content. When we speak of mainstream features, there are very few—‘Dayo’ (2008) and ‘RPG Metanoia’ (2010). We don’t want to be known as just an outsourcing destination.”

For the “conference,” the embassies of France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, Spain, the United States and the United Kingdom will provide exhibition materials. “It will showcase their content so Filipinos will see different styles and executions,” Lim said.

Director general Ricardo Blancaflor of the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines will discuss copyright protection and how animators can earn from their works.

Ilonggo visual artist and animator Liby Limoso, will present a special project. “He preserved the oral myths and traditions of the sugidanun (epics from Panay Island) and animated it,” said Lim. He will discuss the process.”

Lim expressed optimism for the animation industry, but noted the persistent challenges: “Filipinos are very capable. [Animation] is considered a ‘sunrise industry.’ What it needs is government support. The Filipino audience is also our concern. Colonial mentality is still a problem,” he stressed.

(For details on Animahenasyon 2013, call 817-2727 ext. 108 or visit

Objectifixation, Seven

Heavy Mjolnir USB. Thanks, Jay G!

Golden age. Jill Sobule, Joni Mitchell, Tori Amos, Sinead O'Connor, 10,000 Maniacs, Sarah McLachlan tapes.                                                                                                                                                          
Alpha Flight was killed off-panel a couple of years ago, and this event tie-in finally brought back (and in some ways, upgraded) those deceased members. Marrina is now surly, but can shape water into powerful spouts that she can ride.

Pizza during my birthday week. Four flavors in one.

Cannonball-centric issue. If I remember correctly, Sam saved some miners, then reunited with Lila Cheney. Weeks later, he decided to join Storm's team. Cannonball is now dating _____.
Early b-day gift. Cool Hyperion figure. But you can't find the name anywhere on the package. Anyway, thanks, Benedict.                                                                                                                
UXM 227. Fall of the Mutants ending. The X-Men died for real, months after planning to fake their own deaths (a.k.a. Plan Omega). But the omniversal goddess Roma resurrected them, so they decided to let the world believe they're dead, the better to protect and avenge it.

"Thor has a nice end-credits epilogue that comic fans will get, Mandarin. Wish our movie had something like that."
"I wasn't in Iron Man 3."

Search on for new breed of actors

(Published Nov. 13, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

The Anak TV group, an advocacy organization pushing for child-friendly television in the Philippines, has launched activities for aspiring entertainers and entertainment writers.

The foundation hopes to find new talents via an audition today, 9 a.m. to noon, at Mabuhay Restop in Rizal Park. This week and next, there will also be acting and writing workshops to be conducted by Inquirer columnist Nestor U. Torre.

Anak TV secretary general Mag Cruz Hatol explained the activities: “Many new talents enter the industry with simply fame and fortune as goals. It is essential to nurture fresh talents who will approach media and entertainment with responsibility, prudence and humility. We wish to instill in the fresh batch that being constantly in the eye of the public requires circumspection and mindfulness in their behavior, and lifestyle choices.”

Hatol clarified that while the auditions were not tryouts for specific roles or projects, Anak TV aimed to eventually tap multiple platforms, including TV, film, stage, recording, fashion and advertising, and advocacy crusades.

“Successful aspirants will form the pool of talents we will offer to networks, movie studios and ad agencies. The first step in building that talent pool is training,” he explained.

Actors and hosts, as well as Hatol and his Anak TV team, will screen aspirants: “They will be [evaluated] by a team led by Torre and Boots Anson-Roa. The team will include Nora Aunor, Boy Abunda, Isay Alvarez, Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski, Ricky Davao and Gladys Reyes. Torre, Roa, Reyes and Davao will also be among the trainors.”

According to Hatol, Anak TV planned to make the auditions inclusive and “a fairly regular” undertaking that would lead to regular workshops and clinics. “Talent should know no age, gender or social background. The auditions are open to all aspiring performers, singers and even print and ramp models. There will be no age restrictions.”

Jaworski, foundation spokesperson, earlier announced via e-mail the “Basic Acting Workshop” (for attendees aged 13 to 50 on Nov. 16 and 17) and the “Basic Writing Workshop” (13 and above, Nov. 23 and 24). Both will be conducted by Torre.

“Few media critics, directors and writers in the country have as much exposure, training background, academic credits and high degree of respectability as Torre has,” Hatol said.
He added that the workshops would be helpful to the fresh batch, whose exposure to current trends and different disciplines would be addressed.

“The workshops will zero in on the existing strengths of the trainees and use theories that can easily find application in contemporary media practice. Nothing outdated… will be included,” Hatol said. The trainors were expected to share generously of themselves, he added. “The [participants] will have solid, grounded and distinguished models to follow.”
(For details, such as venues and fees, e-mail or call telephone number 3522190.) 

What the Pack

Tutal Thursday. The things I had to do to pass Package Design, circa 1992. Painted with water color and poster color.

Living ‘mummy’ in quirky series

(Published Nov. 7, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

“To become immobilized, all wrapped up, is a very comforting, nice and exciting feeling for me,” said American mummification enthusiast Mumman Mark, one of many people with uncommon interests featured in the Discovery miniseries “Forbidden.”

During a teleconference with Asian journalists, Mark described the shooting period as a positive experience and said the “Forbidden” production people were sensitive to his requirements.

“I was very excited about the four-day shoot [at] my house. It was a lot of fun for the most part,” he said. “Sometimes, it was tedious to do things over and over, but to be able to show a large audience like the Discovery Channel [viewers] across the world some of my interests [is great].

He found enjoyment in being wrapped all over with duct tape, deprived of sensations for hours. A salesman and grandfather of eight, Mark admitted to having difficulty finding people who understood his “forbidden” pleasure, at first. But his second wife and, eventually, friends who were into the same thing, helped him celebrate the unusual hobby.

During the making of the episode “Double Lives,” he revealed his obsession to his family. “It’s not a regular everyday activity, although I do think there are millions of people around the world who are into mummification to some extent or another,” he said. “And I think that with the openness of the Internet, and the various things that are more open than they used to be, there’s more of an acceptance now.”

He explains himself to naysayers from time to time. “I explain by simply saying I’ve been this way since childhood,” he said. “I’ve had thoughts of doing this type of thing … and that it’s not an aberration or something that should make anyone feel that he’s so different from other people.”
Mark and his friends take turns “mummifying” each other, but emphasize the importance of safety. “We see how long we can go,” said Mark, “but we always are very safe about it.  That must be stressed … we always monitor and watch each other very carefully, because it could be dangerous if you leave somebody alone—he [might] have a breathing issue or develop a cramp!”

Still, Mark described mummification as “a fun activity,” and pointed out that among the cultures that practiced it, he identified most with the Egyptians. “Of course it was done on deceased bodies, but they went about it in a very methodical, very thorough way. I think there’s also something that went back, in many cultures, to the bundling up of an infant in the crib. I think it became like a universal thing, that it was comforting to people in general.”

Other “Forbidden” episodes will center on people with distinctly different interests, including those who eat “freaky food,” dress up in animal costumes and worship Argentine soccer icon Diego Maradona.

(“Forbidden” premieres Nov. 21, 10 p.m. on Discovery Channel.)

Relief Efforts

If you can, please help out. Check out Inquirer Super's guide to relief efforts as well.

Drinking to That

Updates. Now with Tweets!

Oct. 30. Damn. I'm forty. :D
Nov. 3. What a week. Great seeing colleagues Nathalie and Ginger again. Watched Rob Schneider. Co-hosted with Marinel and Ervin at Radyo Inquirer. Worked during my birthday, which was okay; I don't usually go out, anyway. Had belated birthday dinner with family. Enjoying my first long weekend, which kinda feels like Sem Break. Only downside, earlier in the week, I met the least helpful publicist on Earth. But the less said about her, the better.
Nov. 6. Eating a mayo-less Zinger while reading flowery press releases.
Nov. 7. Dad just handed half a chicken sandwich. Mayo-y but yummy!
Nov. 8. Go away, supertyphoon.
Nov. 9. Been watching Sleepy Hollow. It's like a mashup of Supernatural and Angel, but with less humor.
Nov. 9. Woohoo! Okey na. #vaguebooking
Nov. 10. Done with editing for the day. Drawing naman.
Nov. 11. Downed two pitchers of mojito, beers and two plates of squid rings. Thanks for the late b-day meal and booze, Mark.
Nov. 11. Hangover blues. Paracetamol, do your stuff.
Nov. 13. Four beers, all by my lonesome. :D
Nov. 14. Drinking by myself. Already floating by the third. Spinning like a record baby, right round, round, round.
Nov. 14. Shooting at the walls of heartache, bang, bang. ♫
Nov. 15. Amicable. I like the word.
Nov. 15. Cheap vodka sent me spinning; zonked out pretty quickly. But not before the drunk selfies. #unwindingafterwork
Nov. 16. Got a Mickey Mouse hat dome cake. Thanks, Disney. #sosweet
Nov. 17. Yay, I can finally watch Doctor Who Season Six!

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Thunderous reunion

The sequel to 2011’s “Thor,” the flashier “Thor: The Dark World” introduces the threat of elf leader
Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), who plagues the titular Norse Thunder God (Chris Hemsworth) and his allies, if a little underwhelmingly.

Unlike the first film, “The Dark World” shows more of Asgard, and the other realms are briefly glimpsed. Some time after the Avengers’ victory in last year’s massively successful film, Thor and his trickster brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) are back in their home dimension, the latter finally imprisoned for his crimes. Thor and their father Odin (Anthony Hopkins), however, are soon confronted by the unrelenting Malekith, who once fought their Asgardian ancestors and is after a long-lost weapon.

This Alan Taylor-directed sequel brings back Thor’s supporting cast, giving them a bit more to do. Jane (Natalie Portman) still pines and is more inquisitive than usual. Offsetting her serious demeanor is her flippant intern Darcy (Kat Dennings), familiarly the comic relief once again. The Asgardian warriors get to join the somewhat complicated fracas and are prominent this time, their personalities actually discernible, at last. That includes Thor's mother Frigga, played by the oddly cast Rene Russo, but the character gets to figure in some defining scenes.

The look of the sequel is more scifi than fantasy, though, which can be a little disappointing. Malekith’s ships are too “Star Wars”-y, and some Asgardian weapons look like they’re firing laser bolts. Asgard is also just an antiseptic, artificial environment with little connection to designs that supposedly inspired the Vikings. While the digitally rendered sets look spectacular, they’re not as majestic or glorious as they could’ve been.

Thor’s story progresses although it’s more of a rehash of his bonding with his adoptive planet and his mortal lover. It really is a simple adventure; the epic duel is pretty typical, predictably big and thunderous—but the ultimate outcome is fun and intriguing. In any case, there are two epilogues; one is shown during the middle of the end credits (this teaser will please comics diehards), while the other is at the very end (it’s… okay). There’s more “Thor” to come, and it will be interesting to see the Avengers’ cinematic mythology expand even further.

October, ‘Fessed

The last week of October was busier than usual, what with work and everything.

Cake while transcribing my Schneider interview at Solaire’s Dragon Bar. Solaire’s nice, btw, but the place is not for non-smokers.

Office Trick or Treat. Some employees and their kids joined the annual office Halloween masquerade. Our section gave away candies. One baby was dressed as Darna.

Was at the office during my birthday. Business as usual.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Lilith Lite

Ancient Mix Tape. Painstakingly culled from other tapes and CDs.

Top model fiercer, flirty

(Published Nov. 6, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

Clashing personalities and combustible chemistry energize the current “America’s Next Top Model” as “Cycle 20” introduces male models into the long-running model search.
The ongoing “Guys and Girls” cycle brings together an impressive gathering of young models, the contest becoming even fiercer for its inclusion of men.

It certainly is nicely chaotic, with some of the 16 contenders hitting it off or immediately getting flirty. But they all have their eyes on the prize, inescapable and cutesy bonding notwithstanding.

The returning judges—supermodel Tyra Banks, fashion publicist Kelly Cutrone, model Rob Evans and fashion blogger Bryanboy—are generally pleased with the mix.

They had interesting things to say about this roster from the get-go. One of the male standouts, Jeremy, impressed Banks with his looks so much that, she said, if she had a daughter, she’d ask the young man, “Please like my daughter!”

Cutrone described another contender, Nina, as “Kurt Cobain’s love child.” And Marvin, whose father is a janitor, was encouraged by Banks and Evans to be more appreciative of his dad’s selfless efforts.

The “ANTM” participants, a crazier mix than usual because of sexual tension and gender politics, are given tasks that reveal character and modeling advantages. Some may stand out for immature behavior, like Chris, who made “enemies” early on for being pesky at the models’ house. He and Marvin have an open rivalry that spices up some episodes, especially since the latter is able to dish out “extreme” putdowns.

The model search still keeps its participants on their toes. One challenge required them to endure a shoot with trained wild animals. They had to become living canvases splashed with body paint in another tough shoot. There was even a challenge where the models “swapped” genders, dressing completely in drag for a time.

The demanding shoots and tasks often have corresponding freak-outs, giving viewers access to  these models’ vulnerable sides. Such displays could drastically affect their standing with the judges, or add to voters’ sympathy.

 And interactivity with viewers still affects the outcome significantly; the once-eliminated Jeremy and Alexandra were recently brought back because of high social media scores.

The roster is currently whittled down to only a few contenders and the “gender divide” isn’t as focused on, the contest aptly reiterating the importance of modeling ability over gender identity. But sexuality is mentioned from time to time, as in the case of effeminate gay guy Cory, whose chameleon-like modeling has been advantageous.

Prizes include a modeling contract with a top agency and a $100,000 campaign with a popular clothing brand. Most of the contenders have unique looks, and are worthy of more attention and opportunities to represent top brands. It’s difficult to tell if a male or female will win at this point, as all have shown strengths in weekly photo poses.

As for host-judge Banks, she’s still a positive force, a helpful, motherly presence. She’s also the models’ makeup artist from time to time—like she was her fellow supermodels’ back in the day. And while she doesn’t crush the “ANTM” hopefuls’ dreams, she still offers wise and practical advice once they’re eliminated.

(“America’s Next Top Model: Guys and Girls” airs Wednesdays, 9 p.m. on ETC.)

Teen metamorphoses still inimitably 'Awkward'

(Published Nov. 4, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

“Awkward” isn’t a traditional teen show, which was clearly evident since its 2011 debut. Centering on the self-aware but faltering Jenna Hamilton (Ashley Rickards), the show captured the essence of high-school life for the hopelessly uncool and the underappreciated.

It certainly was awkward for unassuming Jenna, who got intimate with the school’s popular hottie Matty (Beau Mirchoff) before they even became a real couple. Season one was mostly about the perplexed girl dealing with a secret sexual relationship, as well as the mistaken popular belief that she tried to commit suicide. (It was actually just a really unfortunate accident.)

“Awkward’s” main relationship teetered between unofficial and nonexistent in the second season, but Jenna settled for Matty’s best buddy Jake (Brett Davern), who was genuinely attracted to her.

When Jake discovered Jenna and Matty’s complicated past, however, both the smitten hunks openly wooed her. But not surprisingly, she effortlessly chose Matty.

Its first two seasons only had 12 episodes each, but season three has been expanded to 20. Now that Jenna and Matty are officially an item, the next phase involves the testing and exploration of the relationship. Because they belong to different cliques, Jenna is second-guessing herself. She is also intrigued by a new classmate, the well-read Collin (Nolan Gerard Funk of “Glee”).

In that regard, the show is becoming a bit formulaic, falling into some familiar storytelling tropes along the way. We see the new Matty-Jenna-Collin triangle coming from miles away, but we hope that the story line won’t yield to soap-ish clichés, and that it will offer new twists on old ideas instead.

The new episodes are still characteristically smart, accompanied by Jenna’s witty and wry narration. Like an amalgam of “Doogie Howser’s” computer journals and “The Wonder Years’” poignant recollections, Jenna’s blogging thoughts magnify the character’s unique and momentous insights.

While concurrent story lines are sometimes clearly divided as either comedic or dramatic parts, “Awkward” still offers a cohesive whole. Jenna’s BFF Tamara (Jillian Rose Reed) still has some of the best comedic lines, complementing the more serious romance issues.

And the sexual intimacy of the characters is a subject that isn’t ignored. A pregnancy scare is tackled in one episode, while the discovery of Jenna and Matty’s private activities is discussed by their shocked parents in another.

The new season reiterates that “change is awkward,” signifying more transformations to come—and change is, as usual, crucial to Jenna’s growth. In any case, “Awkward” still intelligently reflects the unspoken-of parts of high-school life and gives us a special perspective of its surmountable struggles.

“Awkward” airs Tuesdays, 11:30 p.m., and Wednesdays, 7:30 p.m. on MTV Asia.

Relentlessly raw, rip-roaring Rob

(Published Nov. 1, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit


Photo by Establish Events
“This is my practice show—I got a big show coming up,” Filipino-American comic Rob Schneider joked a few minutes into his one-night comedy gig at Solaire Resort’s Grand Ballroom last Monday.

Schneider’s much-anticipated set was preceded by three Filipino comics, who offered “alternative” comedy—instead of the usual comedy bar humor. TV writer Alex Calleja stood out with his accessible set of comedic scenarios, told mainly in Filipino. A few jokes were about sex, heralding more adult-aimed thigh-slappers from the main act to come.

At 9:15 p.m., Schneider finally appeared onstage, getting startled by the sudden activation of two large screens at the sides of the stage a couple of minutes after starting his spiel. Those seated at less-advantageous sections got closer views of his expressions, which ranged from seemingly blasé, to just looking genuinely relaxed and enjoying himself.

He joked about his Filipino mother, who reprimanded him a lot when he was a kid. “See what happens?” Rob said in a recognizably Pinoy accent, after presenting situations where he got in trouble because of rowdy behavior. He recalled getting a hurt ankle in a ball game, three miles from his house. He lowered his mic and whispered, “See what happens?” Schneider looked around, puzzled, as if being watched.

The audience erupted in laughter, giving him enough space to segue to another topic. An omniscient mom was just one of different characters he wryly shared with the audience. 

Schneider is a surprisingly adept storyteller; while most of the audience members were presumably only familiar with Schneider’s silly, perhaps endearingly goofy film roles, it was pleasantly shocking to see him gab, almost nonstop, and practically let them view life from his perspective.

He actually started as a stand-up comic in the late 1980s before snagging a place in “Saturday Night Live” and various film roles. Now back in his element, his no-holds-barred approach allowed him to openly talk about sex and relationships. He was unapologetically crude and politically incorrect, but also surprisingly insightful.

He wittily compared guys in their 20s (“testosterone messes”) to the laid-back guys in their 40s. The set of comparisons was quite enlightening, as if Schneider was speaking from experience.

Shortly after, he mimicked a complaining woman: “Look at him. He’s 40; he’s in good shape.” Returning to his normal voice, he responded, “Yeah, he’s in good shape. He’s probably bakla.” 

“Yes, I said it,” he added unabashedly, and transitioned to talking about gay marriage. Gay people, he said, just wanted to have “the same rights as those who aren’t going to hell.”

Switching gears, he poked fun at Paul McCartney, who performed recently Beatles hits as well as new songs as part of an album launch. Schneider said he wanted to tell him: “Paul, just the hits. You’re 71. What if you don’t make it? Go out on a hit!”

His routine diverged into different topics: He mocked unnamed celebrities with bad plastic surgery. He made an Obama impression while making fun of gun ownership issues. And while talking about bad traffic, he said somewhat carefully, “I think stop signs are just a suggestion here.”

Guffaws, of course, ensued.

Schneider also talked about the different lies told by men and women—a number of jokes were about the complicated communication between spouses—and it was pretty clear that he knew what he was talking about.

Self-deprecating but shameless, Schneider had the crowd in stitches early on. His timing was impeccable; his storytelling made his audience receptive to his cultural observations. It was about an hour and 15 minutes of relentless, revelatory Rob Schneider, showing the depth that people never knew, easily disassociating him from his slew of simple, shallow onscreen personas.


1991. I was a teenage Jim Lee clone. This character was created to be the archfoe of Ira Brizna, my entry to the Filbar's character creation contest in December of that year.

Rob Schneider: My family created a monster

(Published Oct. 31, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

First of two parts

“I can’t be afraid to offend—half my jokes are pretty offensive,” comedian-actor Rob Schneider said last Monday at a press conference promoting his one-night show that evening, “Rob Schneider: Live in Manila.”

At the Solaire Resort and Casino’s Eclipse Bar, Schneider gamely answered journalists’ and bloggers’ queries, even chiding those who seemed distracted during the event.
Bastos! Put the phone down for 30 seconds. I flew a long way to get here,” he jokingly scolded some individuals, sending most of the attendees reeling in laughter.

The Filipino-American comic, popular for his roles in “Deuce Bigalow,” “The Hot Chick” and a couple of Adam Sandler flicks, related that relatives were “so warm and supportive” of him when he was a kid, which made a career in comedy easy to pursue. Gatherings often had “good food (like) lumpia, pancit.”

“I grew up south of Daly City (California) in ‘Little Manila.’ I never considered myself short. I was surrounded by Filipinos. I felt like a basketball player,” the 5’4”-tall comedian said.

Photo by Oliver Pulumbarit
He related that getting high grades didn’t impress his mother, Pilar. “[She’d say], ‘So what?’ You’re not an idiot. You’re supposed to get A’s and B’s,’” Schneider recounted, mimicking her. This drove him to become “overly successful.”

Originally a stand-up comic, Schneider debuted in “The David Letterman Show” in 1987. He eventually landed a coveted spot in the “Saturday Night Live” roster in 1990 and stayed on the sketch comedy show for four seasons. Movie roles followed his TV success.

Two decades later, the return to stand-up comedy was easy. His tour started in 2011, a huge success in different countries. His Manila visit follows well-received shows in Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.

Schneider, who turns 50 today, credited his longevity to adapting with the times, becoming active in social media to get the word out on his projects. He said aspiring comedians should also take advantage of the different platforms currently available.

“Go on stage. Write jokes, go on YouTube. Create your own thing. There’s the Internet,
social media—the limitations are what you set on yourself,” Schneider explained.

But he added that comedy was a serious thing. “Right now, if you want to be the best comedian in the world, just do this. You can’t do this as a side job!”

The child of a Jewish father and a Filipino mother, Schneider hinted at the possibility of making a movie about his mom’s life during the Japanese occupation.

He also expressed an interest in making the biopic of Filipino Journey vocalist Arnel Pineda: “I’d love to produce and make that. That’s a good story. You just have to take a year of your life [to make it].”

Schneider revealed that his family contributed to his wacky and bastos personality. “I was the youngest so I got away with more,” he told the Inquirer after the press conference.

“I always got in trouble and my mom would say, ‘Robert, when do you turn off?’ I was just joking around too much. But she also got me in trouble because when I leave the house, she would say, ‘Anybody touches a hair on Robbie’s head, I’m gonna kill you,’” he recalled, chuckling.

“So my brothers and sisters kinda hated me for a while when I was a little boy,” Schneider added. “But they created a monster because they [also] supported me!”

As for his humor, he acknowledged that it had changed tremendously. “I think it’s more mature… it’s more interesting than when I was younger.”

According to Schneider, his job as a stand-up comic requires him to be familiar with the country’s culture: “Every show is different. But there’s a big chunk that’s the same and I’ll use ’em all. But you have to talk about the place you’re at; otherwise, you’re not a comic!”

It took Schneider a year and a half to prepare for the comedy tour, his routine ultimately inspired by a variety of sources. “Just living, traveling… having a baby with my wife (Patricia)… Also, just being onstage, going out there and doing over 200 shows a year—that’s a lot of material!” he enthused.

(To be continued)